Episode 02: "The Telling"
Location: Gymnasium (Enlisted), USS Thames
Timeline: Mission Day 02, 0712 Hours
ON: [[Gymnasium (Enlisted), USS Thames, Mission Day 02, 0712 Hours]]
Sharon jogged along the endless track of the treadmill, her body going through the familiar motions without conscious thought. It wasn't that she drifted off while running - she usually enjoyed focusing her mind on the simplicity of the task - but it also allowed her the time to think about things without being distracted from important tasks.
This morning Sharon's thoughts were turned towards the senior staff meeting presently going on. Commander Thompson had not briefed her on the particulars, but she knew it must be important because it wasn't fit into the scheduled rotation of the senior officers. The easiest assumption was that it was something to do with the colony, and most enlisted personnel would have left it at that. But Sharon didn't believe in the cultural bias of the ranks. She would certainly follow the orders of officers, but that didn't mean she couldn't have a mind of her own.
So what was the staff meeting about? As far as Sharon knew, the colony's setup was progressing normally. She had pulled a few shifts helping train the colony security teams and they seemed as ready as they needed to be (though Sharon shared Thompson's concern about the potential for complacency). Neither did Sharon know of any particular issues with the Thames, and she always took it upon herself to peruse even the mundane daily reports from other departments.
Nidai climbed onto the open treadmill next to Cole's. It hadn't taken much for her to locate the woman, seeing as the latter kept a pretty consistent routine. In fact, Cole seemed to take after her supervisor in that regard. The field agent tossed her towel over the bar and keyed in the activation sequence. Her settings and training regimen appeared instantly on the small display. As the belt started to move, Nidai moved along with it, settling into an even pace once it reached speed.
Sharon turned her head in surprise (she would never admit to being startled) at the sound of a voice next to her. Although the gym certainly wasn't empty, there hadn't been anyone near her up to this point. More surprising than someone deciding to come jog with Sharon was who it was.
"Special Agent Nidai," Sharon said after her brief moment of surprise had passed. "What brings you to the enlisted gym?"
"Change of scenery," Nidai quipped, keeping her eyes fixed on the bulkhead in front of them, "thought I'd mix it up a bit."
"Sure," Sharon said, turning her own gaze forward and continuing her jog. "Nothing to do with the officer gym being mostly empty of its usual occupants this morning, I'm sure."
Nidai smiled wryly. Contrary to popular belief, she actually liked Cole. It may not have always been most apparent to everyone else, given the way they tended to yank one another's chain sometimes, but she respected the chief. Cole was efficient and smart. Thompson had been right to choose her as his assistant. Had Nidai still been in charge of her own department, she would have done the same.
"What do you know?"
"Oh, they don't let me know anything," Sharon assured her new running partner. "But this morning Commander Thompson upped our security status within the department. It's nothing huge, no major drills for the ship or anything, but it does tell me there might be a potential threat out there."
A moment of silence passed between them, punctuated only by their footfalls and their steady breathing as they continued to run alongside one another. The upgraded readiness status was something Nidai was already aware of. It fit with what she knew of Thompson, namely that he would sooner take certain precautions than find out later they should have done something more. What she didn't understand was why Cole hadn't been read in yet.
"I don't know," Sharon finally said. "If the colony is in danger, it wasn't before. I got the impression this was something new, that recently happened."
"It's got to be something local," Nidai remarked.
"What makes you think that?"
"There's only been one long-distance transmission since around 0430 hours this morning," Nidai observed, "and there isn't anything from my side that would indicate this is coming from somewhere else. Hence...it's got to be local." Despite her confidence, she knew there was a problem with her logic - she had no idea what the contents of that one transmission were. She only knew that it had been initiated by Commander Whittemore and that it had involved someone at Eleventh Fleet headquarters on Cestus III. Anything beyond that was speculation.
"So, local and recent," Sharon said musingly. "We were pretty thorough on our scans of the planet, but maybe we missed something that just resurfaced. Although I can't imagine what would be this critical without also demanding a more immediate response." She was thinking about the vulnerability of the Thames where it sat on the surface of the planet. If there was a threat, shouldn't they be preparing to make orbit as soon as possible?
Nidai shrugged. "Maybe we just need to wait until they tell us," she suggested.
"Oh, where's the fun in that?" Sharon laughed, but she knew Nidai had a point. Postulating was all well and good, but they really didn't have enough information yet. Glancing at her treadmill's readout, Sharon noticed she was reaching the last push. "Race you to the finish?"
“Try to keep up...”
Chief Petty Officer Sharon Cole
Assistant Chief Security Officer
USS Thames (NCC-80629)
Special Agent Nidai
Field Agent (SFCIS)
USS Thames (NCC-80629)